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HMS Arabis in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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HMS Arabis



10th February 1916 Battle of Dogger Bank 1916  The Second Battle of Dogger Bank took place on the 10th February 1916 off Dogger Bank in the North Sea. This engagement resulted in a German victory. Ships engaged were 4 sloops and 25 torpedo boats. Casualties and losses were 1 sloop sunk (HMS Arabis) with 56 crew dead and 24 captured

Background to the Battle.

Admiral Reinhard Scheer took command of the German High Seas Fleet in 1916 due to the illness of Admiral Hugo von Pohl and immediately began to take a more offensive strategy in the North Sea. This resulted in more frequent raids and incursions into British dominated areas. One of these occurred on the 10th February 1916 when the Germans sent the 2nd, 6th, and 9th Torpedo-Boat Flotillas to Dogger Bank in an attempt to intercept Allied shipping. At least 25 torpedo boats were deployed. The only British vessels operating in the area were the British 10th Minesweeping Flotilla, consisting of HMS Arabis, Poppy, Buttercup, and Alyssum.

Each of these Arabis-class sloops was armed only with two 4.7 in (120 mm) guns as well as two 3-pounder anti-aircraft guns and were little match to the large numbers of German torpedo boats(also described as destroyers).

Battle description.

Arabis along with the other three sloops of her division had been engaged in sweeping a clear channel east of Dogger Bank when they were sighted by a large number of German torpedo boats. The Germans at first hesitated in attacking them as they were not familiar with the new Arabis-class vessels and thought they were much more powerful cruisers. However with their numerical advantage the Germans decided to launch their attack anyway. The British attempted to flee back to the safety of the coast with Poppy, Buttercup and Alyssum succeeding. Arabis was not so fortunate. She was caught and engaged by three of the German torpdeo boats. After fighting off this attack, Arabis was attacked by six of the German boats and finally went down after being struck by a torpedo. Thirty of Arabis' crew were pulled from the sea by the Germans, but four of them died shortly afterwards due to exposure to the elements.

Aftermath of the Action

The British caused some minor damage to a few of the German destroyers and the only losses from the action was HMS Arabis along with 56 of her crew killed and another 24 captured by the Germans. For his actions during the battle, Arabis' commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Robert Raymond Hallowell-Carew, received the Distinguished Service Order. He and two other officers were amonst the captives Having only sunk a single minesweeping sloop, the Germans claimed that they had engaged a squadron of four new cruisers and sunk two of them with torpedoes. The British Admiralty quickly responded confirming that no other Allied forces had been engaged besides the 10th Minesweeping Division and that no cruisers had been sunk in the action. Following the action off Dogger Bank, the Battlecruiser Fleet from Rosyth, the 5th Cruiser Division from Harwich, as well as other elements of the Grand Fleet were deployed. These British forces assembled in the North Sea and swept southward. This action was called off on the 11th when it was established that the German forces were solely torpedo boats which had already returned to their bases.

Upon returning from the failed intercept operation, the light cruiser HMS Arethusa struck a German mine and sank, losing 12 of her crew.

John Doran


25th May 1916 U-Boat Index - WW1  SM U-54

Type U 51 Shipyard Germaniawerft, Kiel (Werk 236) Ordered 23 Aug 1914 Laid down 18 Mar 1915 Launched 22 Feb 1916 Commissioned 25 May 1916

Commanders.
16 May 1916 - 19 May 1917 Freiherr Volkhard von Bothmer.
20 May 1917 - 22 Mar 1918 Kurt Heeseler.
23 Mar 1918 - 11 Nov 1918 Oblt. Hellmuth von Ruckteschell

Career 12 patrols.
2 Jul 1916 - 11 Nov 1918 II Flotilla

Successes 26 ships sunk with a total of 66,713 tons.
4 ships damaged with a total of 17,847 tons.
1 warship sunk with a total of 1,290 tons.

  • 3 Feb 1917 U 54 Volkhard von Bothmer Tamara 453 nw
  • 4 Feb 1917 U 54 Volkhard von Bothmer Floridian 4,777 br
  • 4 Feb 1917 U 54 Volkhard von Bothmer Palmleaf 5,489 br
  • 5 Feb 1917 U 54 Volkhard von Bothmer Ainsdale (damaged) 1,825 br
  • 5 Feb 1917 U 54 Volkhard von Bothmer Azul 3,074 br
  • 7 Feb 1917 U 54 Volkhard von Bothmer Wallace (damaged) 3,930 br
  • 7 Feb 1917 U 54 Volkhard von Bothmer Saxonian 4,855 br
  • 15 Mar 1917 U 54 Volkhard von Bothmer Eugene Pergeline 2,203 fr
  • 1 Apr 1917 U 54 Volkhard von Bothmer Consul Persson 1,835 nw
  • 1 Apr 1917 U 54 Volkhard von Bothmer Fjelland 387 nw
  • 2 Apr 1917 U 54 Volkhard von Bothmer Havlyst 532 nw
  • 3 Jun 1917 U 54 Kurt Heeseler San Lorenzo (damaged) 9,607 br
  • 7 Jun 1917 U 54 Kurt Heeseler Jonathan Holt 1,523 br
  • 13 Jun 1917 U 54 Kurt Heeseler Darius 3,426 br
  • 23 Jul 1917 U 54 Kurt Heeseler Ashleigh 6,985 br
  • 23 Jul 1917 U 54 Kurt Heeseler Huelva 4,867 br
  • 25 Jul 1917 U 54 Kurt Heeseler Rustington 3,071 br
  • 26 Jul 1917 U 54 Kurt Heeseler Somerset 7,163 br
  • 31 Jul 1917 U 54 Kurt Heeseler Alcides 2,704 nw
  • 16 Sep 1917 U 54 Kurt Heeseler Arabis 3,928 br
  • 17 Sep 1917 U 54 Kurt Heeseler Niemen 1,888 fr
  • 19 Sep 1917 U 54 Kurt Heeseler Marthe Marguerite 588 fr
  • 24 Sep 1917 U 54 Kurt Heeseler Louis Bossert 605 nw
  • 25 Sep 1917 U 54 Kurt Heeseler Marceau 292 fr
  • 30 Apr 1918 U 54 Hellmuth von Ruckteschell Starmount (damaged) 2,485 br
  • 8 May 1918 U 54 Hellmuth von Ruckteschell Dux 1,349 br
  • 8 May 1918 U 54 Hellmuth von Ruckteschell Princess Dagmar 913 br
  • 10 May 1918 U 54 Hellmuth von Ruckteschell Wileysike 2,501 br
  • 16 Jul 1918 U 54 Hellmuth von Ruckteschell Anchusa 1,290 br
  • 27 Sep 1918 U 54 Hellmuth von Ruckteschell En Avant 86 fr
  • 29 Sep 1918 U 54 Hellmuth von Ruckteschell Libourne 1,219 br

Fate 24 Nov 1918 - Surrendered to Italy. Broken up at Taranto in May 1919.

There was another U 54 in World War Two.
That boat was launched from its shipyard on 15 Aug 1939 and commissioned into the Kriegsmarine on 23 Sep 1939.

John Doran


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